Stoops: Rodriguez will return for No. 9 Kentucky on Oct. 1

Joseph Cress / USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said that leading rusher Chris Rodriguez Jr. will return from an unspecified absence on Oct. 1 for the No. 9 Wildcats’ Southeastern Conference matchup at No. 20 Mississippi.

Stoops announced Rodriguez’s return during his weekly news conference but did not state a reason for the running back’s absence that will keep him out for upcoming non-conference games against FCS Youngstown State and Mid-American Conference member Northern Illinois.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty in July to driving under the influence, and discipline was expected, but Stoops has said only that the 1,300-yard rusher was “unavailable” but not suspended and did not specify how his status was being determined.

Pressed further, the 10th-year coach would not comment and added that Rodriguez “will be back at Ole Miss.”

Kentucky (2-0, 1-0 SEC) is coming off a 26-16 victory at then-No. 11 Florida, achieved despite failing to break 100 net yards rushing for the second consecutive week. At the same time, the Wildcats outgained the Gators 107-32 on the ground after halftime and averaged nearly five yards per carry to earn consecutive wins over the Gators for the first time since 1976-77.

And they’ll soon have a first-team, All-SEC selection who rushed for 1,379 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

“We’ve been prepared to handle the situation for weeks now,” Stoops said, adding that Rodriguez has worked with the scout team while taking practice reps with the first and second teams.

“We’ve been getting the other guys ready, continuing to progress and also keep him in shape. … We will be more than happy to welcome him back and have him compete when he can.”

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.